My Last, at Least For This Year, Thought About the Hall of Fame.

Friday, January 11, 2013

I feel like I'll never get to stop writing about steroids.

Here's the thing I haven't yet seen raised.  

For the writers who are claiming to be strict constructionists on the character clause (hey, they say, it doesn't matter that it's never, ever been used before to keep someone out before steroids... 

"I didn't get to vote against the gamblers or Klansmen or those who supported and defended segregation"

...which to use Costas's language, created numbers much, much, much less reliable than any drug ever taken...

... and the character clause certainly has never been used to put someone in, no one says that JT Snow couldn't get on base but he was a helluva guy so let's get him in because of the character clause but forget all of that because... 

"what matters is the plain language of the guidelines for voting; all I do is read that character clause and apply the law to the facts of these cases")

 my question is... 

"Do you believe there's a difference between a first ballot hall of famer and the other hall of famers?"

Because if they do - if they don't vote for Biggio this year because he's not an inner circle guy and don't feel he's worthy of that special vote - then the question is 

"show me where in the rules is the language allowing you to make that distinction."

Because it's not there.  When it comes to doing that, they don't care about the rules, they have their own sense, based on what previous writers have done, about how they should distinguish among tiers of hall of famers. The reason Willie Mays wasn't unanimous and the reason Greg Maddux won't be either isn't because there's any language in the voting rules allowing for those distinctions.  Sportswriters ignore the language of the rules and instead look to tradition.   It's only when it comes to this current generation of PED users that Susan Slusser suddenly becomes Antonin Scalia.    

They are entirely making this up; advanced metrics have made old media baseball writers totally irrelevant, and their inability to think critically has made the Hall of Fame irrelevant.  

This is from the September 11, 1985 edition of the New York Times:

Asked by the defense lawyer whether he had used the amphetamine pills, known 
among players as ''greenies,'' Berra at first said no, then later said yes. Q. Where did you get them?. A. From Bill Madlock. You could get them from Willie Stargell.

Q. So Willie Stargell gave you amphetamine pills? A. Yes. Q. When did Willie Stargell give you amphetamine pills?

A. When he was playing with us. It could be on any given day when I asked him for one. On days when I would ask him, yes.

That's Dale Berra testifying in federal court that Willie Stargell gave him speed.

Willie Stargell's in the Hall of Fame. If there was a national debate about his candidacy - if Willie Stargell was hauled in front of Congress to apologize to the parent of some kid who got crazy hopped up on speed and killed himself (or who couldn't stop singing "I'm so Excited") perhaps someone could find the youtube clip of that testimony.

John Milner testified that as a young Met, he took a liquid amphetamine, "red juice" from Willie Mays's locker. Dwight Gooden wrote in his autobiography that 10 Mets regularly took speed; David Wells wrote in his bio that players had "season long stockpiles" of speed; in Ball Four, Jim Bouton talked about players getting jars of 500 pills. Even sainted Hank Aaron admitted to using them "one time" in his autobiography.  That's one more illegal drug use than Roger Clemens, the greatest pitcher of your lifetime, has admitted to.  

Illegal drugs. Illegal performance enhancing drugs. 

Here's what I want to see the next time there is a former athlete on television wearing his righteous pants - I want him to tell me every drug he's ever put in his body. All of them.

In fact, I want Tom Verducci to tell me the same thing.

Has he ever popped an adderall to crank out another finger wagging essay?

Did he take a bennie as an undergrad to finish a term paper?  Because if he did - didn't he hurt the curve for some other student who wouldn't break the law?  Isn't his career (like Arnold's and Sly's) aided by drug use at the expense of others?  Where is the justice?  

And more than that - I don't really want them all to have to say it on TV - I want them saying it under oath.  

 Because that's the trap they set for Barry Bonds - let's bring every athlete and sportswriter in front of a grand jury and ask them about any drug they've ever taken ever - either they'll open up the windows to their lives or we got 'em. Let's ask about teammates and co-workers. I want to see the bodies hit the floor. What did you know and when did you know it?

 I want everyone in the Hall of Fame, and every ex player now in the media, to have to discuss how many  drugs they took.  Did you take amphetamines?  How many?  Did you take painkillers?  Did they enhance your ability to perform?  I want every writer to reveal the drug use of every Hall of Fame player he covered. Make them all go on the record.  Cal Ripken played in 2632 consecutive games somehow, breaking an unbreakable record of a New York Yankee considerably more noted than Roger Maris, and he played with Brady Anderson, a man who he called his best friend.

In 1996, Brady Anderson hit 50 home runs and slugged .637 in 579 ABs.

In the almost 6000 ABs he had before and after, he had a total of 150 additional home runs and he never slugged as high as .480 in any other season. In a 15 year big league career, over 20% of his career value, by WAR, came in 1996.  Did Brady take illegal drugs but not give any to his best friend, Iron Man Cal?  Did Cal aid and abet Brady Anderson's illegal drug use?  Billy Ripken's on MLB network all of the time - what does he know about Brady Anderson?  

And what about Nolan Ryan?

When he was 42 years old, big, broad backed Nolan Ryan won 16 games with a 3.20 ERA,.

At 43 years old, he won 13 with a 3.44 ERA, and at 44 years old - the old man had an ERA under 3.00 and a 12-6 record.  Barry Bonds was long, long gone before he turned 44.  Could Ranger executive Nolan Ryan have really maintained himself as a power pitcher so deeply into his 40s without the use of a little enhancement?

He did all of that in a hitters ballpark. Arlington. As a Texas Ranger.

He played with Palmeiro. And Sosa. And Kevin Brown. And Juan Gonzalez. And Pudge. And Ruben Sierra (ever looked at his career numbers?) And Brian Downing. And Kevin Reimer.  What do we know about those guys?

And Jose Canseco. He got there in '92. Did Canseco bring the steroid culture from Oakland?

Or did he find one already flourishing in Texas?

Rickey Henderson, his body rippling with muscle, was a Bash Brother with Canseco and McGwire and he's sitting there in the Hall of Fame right now.

You want to rip off the band aid, indignant, righteous sports writers, then let's do it.  Let's ask Jordan.   Let's ask Tiger. Let's ask Ray Lewis.  

If we get to speculate - if we get to just decide that Bonds and Clemens and Bagwell and Piazza, clear, no doubt, Hall of Famers took magic pills and these are the consequences - if we get to speculate  - then dammit let's go.  Let's get in some speculation.

What did you do and when did you do it?

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